Customer Service Drives Value and Growth
Whether B2B or B2C, providing a superior experience for customers drives success. In the chaos brought about by Covid, work became remote, and customers doubled down on online purchasing. Businesses built new platforms to meet online demand, and customer service (CS) centers had to keep pace. Moving beyond the pandemic, companies must assess whether their current CS is delivering on customer expectations of superior customer experience (CX).
End to End Perspective and Real Time Tracking are Key
In Hubspot’s 2022 State of Customer Service Report, nearly 90% of the 1,400 global CS leaders surveyed agreed that customer expectations are at an all-time high. Concurrently, most businesses struggle with lack of integration between back-office functions and siloing of departments. From the customer’s point of view, regardless of the department they interact with, they are dealing with one brand. To maintain customer loyalty, the customer journey must be seamless.
Deloitte.com suggests most businesses overinvest in customer facing platforms at the expense of back-office people and processes. To unify CX, companies need visibility throughout a customer’s entire interaction. Mapping across all departments, including marketing, sales, warehouse, finance, delivery, and support is key. Real time tracking and data analysis can avert a potential bad experience before it happens, increasing the likelihood of a positive experience.
Priorities, Challenges for Today’s CS Leaders
Today’s CS leaders understand the criticality of delivering superior CX across all platforms and departments. 74% of CS leaders surveyed in Gartner’s Global 2022 Customer Service Trends and Priorities Report list the top priorities for growing business as: 1) improve content and knowledge delivery to customers, and 2) improve operational excellence/create seamless CX journey.
Keeping knowledge management systems current is a big challenge. With information constantly evolving, maintaining a single source of “truth” to guide customers is difficult. Service needs to be proactive, not reactive, and a clearly defined CX strategy built on flexibility is essential. Companies must invest in the latest customer service technology, identifying and prioritizing best in class.
Humanizing the Contact Center and Other Strategies
When Covid hit, companies moved thousands of employees from contact centers to remote work. Organizations scrambled to build new platforms and aggregate CS tech stacks. Recognizing current limitations and focused on the future, CS leaders are pursuing new strategies to optimize operations. “Future proofing” means investing in modular technology with a scalable foundation and flexibility to adapt to evolving needs. Building a unified system simplifies vendor management and reduces costs. Accelerating AI supports multiple channels and “anytime, anywhere” customer interaction. Reorganizing processes for company-wide collaboration delivers better experiences.
Happy contact center agents are good for business: Human-assisted channels of CX still lead in usage and customer preference (Forrester, 3/15/2022) and most customers say an emotional connection with a customer service agent would make them continue to do business with a company. (smallbizgenius.com, 3/17/2022) Yet Forrester reports three-quarters of agents leave within 2 years, citing no career path or professional development, and burnout due to long call queues and angry customers. Working remotely leads to loneliness with no in-person team or co-worker support. Jan Gunnar Storli, Managing Partner of IMSA Search Global Partners Norway says, “This is a critical issue for companies who are constantly having to backfill customer service positions. It’s expensive, disruptive, and they must prioritize initiatives to humanize the contact center, supporting and encouraging agents to reduce turnover.”
CX is a C-Suite Priority
C-Suite executives understand CX’s role in financial performance. Watermark Consulting’s 2022 annual study on CX and stock market performance demonstrates a 3x advantage for “CX Leaders” over “CX Laggards”, with “CX Leaders” outperforming the S&P 500 by 100 points. According to Storli, “Top CX executives are in demand for the ability to lead a cohesive, organization-wide CX strategy and the team to implement it. CX is a driver of growth and, thus, a top priority.”
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